05/23/06 — Dodge truck has 500 tire-smoking horsepower

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Dodge truck has 500 tire-smoking horsepower

Dodge RAM SRT-10 (2006)

What do you buy the man who has everything?

Perhaps he doesn’t have everything.

Chances are he doesn’t have a fire-breathing, tire-smoking, window-rattling Dodge Ram SRT-10, the Dodge truck equivalent to the over-the-top Dodge Viper sports car.

And if he’s a man’s man, then he will instantly fall in love with the SRT-10 and its 8.3-liter V-10 engine pumping out 500 horsepower and 525 pound feet of torque, the same engine found in the Viper. If you are a red-blooded American, and not one of those weepy green people, how could you not love this new Dodge creation?

Dodge RAM SRT-10, 2006

Can you say hemi? Hell, can you scream Viper.

The 2006 SRT-10 is not so much a truck as a hunk of muscle you pull out of the garage on weekends to wow the neighborhood teen-agers and make their fathers green with envy.

Dodge has one-upped Chevrolet and its SS version of the Silverado, and Ford, which for years held bragging rights to the fastest production truck in existence with the Ford F-150 Lightning.

But there’s more Lightning in this Ram bottle.

The hotrod boys at Ford have gone back to the drawing board. The Lightning with its 5.4-liter supercharged 380-horsepower V-8 was discontinued after the ’04 model year and nothing new has yet emerged from the performance division at Ford.

Chevrolet has endowed its extended cab Silverado with a 345-horsepower 6.0-liter V-8. It’s a very interesting truck.

But the kind of 22-inch Pirelli tire smoking launches that will take the Ram from 0 to 60 in a scant 4.8 seconds and through a quarter mile in 13.2 seconds at 107 miles per hour make it the fastest truck on the planet earth.

Those are some astounding numbers for a vehicle that weighs in at a super heavyweight 5,139 pounds.

And they are numbers that your average driver — should he find a private stretch of asphalt — would be hard pressed to duplicate. Dump the clutch and hit the gas in this monster, and the lightweight rear end will fishtail like a big mouth bass fighting for its freedom.

More progressive launches are recommended. But once the pedal is secured to the floor, the SRT-10 will slingshot toward the danger zone, otherwise known as double the posted speed limit, in the time you can say, are you sure this is a truck?

So if the man’s man is lucky (or unlucky as some might see it) enough to receive this 50 grand rocketship as a humanitarian gift, will he then have everything?

Probably not, but will it matter?

Sure, he could even haul supplies back from the local hardware store on the weekend, but somehow that just doesn’t seem right. Maybe in a pinch, if the 4-cylinder Dakota doesn’t crank.

The Ram SRT-10 was available only in regular-cab format when it was launched for the 2004 model year, but last year Dodge added a crew cab version so super dad could display his awesome machine to more of his friends at one time.

Power is directed to the rear wheels via a modified version of the Viper’s six-speed manual transmission with a Hurst shifter in the regular cab. The crew cab gets a heavy-duty four-speed automatic.

Even though the driver needs to be careful with hard launches, the SRT-10 is relatively easy to drive. Shifting the long, spindly Hurst shifter is easy under normal driving conditions. The heavy spring-loaded clutch can be a bit wearing on the left knee, but it’s tolerable unless you face prolonged stop and start traffic.

Shifting only becomes an art — and a chore — when the engine is pushed to redline and great gobs of torque are placed on the transmission.

And the big V-10 — no superchargers or turbochargers on this brute — will lope along at rpms as low as 1,500 while cruising the streets in third or fourth gear.

The SRT-10 has the menacing looks to go with its menacing performance. The giant Ram grille in itself is enough to cause rear-view-mirror panic in many drivers. Add the macho front end to a body lowered one inch in front and two in the back, a giant hood scoop, front ground effects, body cladding, 22-inch wheels and a rear spoiler, and you have perhaps the best-looking performance truck ever built.

Only three colors are available — red, black and gray.

Curiously, the SRT is not just about straight-ahead acceleration. This beast will corner, too. And that’s a good mix for a potential traffic ticket.

Remarkable cornering prowess, despite the high-truck stance and a somewhat trucky ride, comes courtesy of the massive 305/40YR22 Pirelli rubber and revised suspension that includes Bilstein shocks, performance springs and a rear sway bar.

The interior is standard Ram, nothing fancy. Combination leather and suede sport seats are comfortable and look nice especially with large SRT-10 emblems embroidered on the head rests.

The standard cab, much like a sports car, is a two-person vehicle. But opt for the crew cab — you will sacrifice a modicum of performance — and four people can have their necks snapped at the same time.

Nice touches include white-faced gauges and drilled metallic pedals. To give the truck a true feel of performance, a starter button to the right of the steering wheel needs to be pushed to bring the Viper engine to life.

Storage space is ample including a deep center bin.

The stereo controls are standard fare, but underneath the skin resides a 518-watt amp with 10 speakers including a 10-inch subwoofer mounted between the seats.

Perhaps that is just another faucet of Dodge’s 500 theme, which includes 500 horsepower, 525 pound-feet of torque and 506 cubic inches.

Options aren’t need, but good things can be added including a navigation system.

This screaming fun does not come cheaply. Our standard cab test truck carried a base price of $48,505 including destination charge. Several options, including the navigation system and Sirus satellite radio, brought the bottom line to $51,610.

The crew cab version starts at $52,710.

And then there’s the two words you may not want to hear — gas mileage. The SRT-10 is rated at 9 miles to the gallon in city driving and 15 highway on premium fuel.

That’s simply the price of unequaled performance.

By Jim Meachen
Published in Car Reviews on May 23, 2006 3:08 PM